Heritage activism and conflict
In Norway, as in the rest of the world, we have in recent years seen a rise in legal measures aiming at protecting cultural property from wilful destruction in times of conflict, and to prevent looting, smuggling and illicit trade in cultural objects.
Despite increasing regulation, the use of cultural property as an asset in illicit economies and illegal enterprises is growing. At the core of this field is the need to understand the role of cultural heritage in conflicts, to investigate how and why heritage is used as a resource in conflict, and to involve future heritage practitioners in this field of research. Moreover, this competence is vital in order to address and assess the effect, enforcement and purpose of heritage legislation.
Heritage is a powerful tool today and in the past, and we will investigate how heritage is and has been negotiated in various contexts in ways that ultimately inform social norms and instantiate notions of the 'common good'. This also includes challenging the heritage sector itself, often characterised by a top-down perspective.
There is a need for a more sustained understanding of the bottom-up processes whereby minority groups and indigenous peoples, as well as political activists, are challenging and converting heritage in opposition to official heritage use and politics.